Nausea during pregnancy

Being nauseous is such a horrid feeling.  Even if you are delighted to be pregnant, morning sickness is not something you feel like celebrating.  For some it is only fleeting, whilst for others it can continue for most of the pregnancy.  Anyone that has experienced it knows all too well that it doesn’t just occur in the morning either!  It can pretty much occur at any time and be constant throughout the day. 

Severe nausea during pregnancy, known as Hyperemesis gravidarum, is a condition which often needs medical support due to the risk of dehydration.  This blog is aimed at your more run-of-the-mill nausea, but please be aware that if you are suffering from any of the following you should contact your GP immediately:

·     have very dark-coloured urine or have not had a pee in more than 8 hours

·     are unable to keep food or fluids down for 24 hours

·     feel severely weak, dizzy or faint when standing up

·     have abdominal pain

·     have pain or blood when you pee

·     have lost weight

 

Nausea can be frustrating, as even if you would love to be eating well, both for you and for baby, it can be hard to eat nutritious foods.  It is thought to be a protective mechanism preventing the mother from consuming foods that may put the foetus at risk.  The good news is that for the majority of women the nausea will not last long and as soon as it stops you will be able to focus on nutrient dense foods. 

In the meantime, here are some things to try:

  1. Some people tolerate cold foods better as just the smell of hot foods can make the nausea worse. You may need to avoid doing the cooking for a while too.

  2. Plain, dry foods such as crackers or toast are usually well tolerated.

  3. Try to eat small amounts regularly.  An empty stomach can make the nausea worse, so eating a small snack every 2 hours can help prevent it developing. 

  4. Try keeping plain crackers or biscuits (such as cream crackers or rich tea) or even dry cereal, by your bedside and eating 1 of these and drinking some water before you get up in the morning as often the movement can set things off and having a snack before can help.

  5. Some people find ginger tea beneficial or adding ginger to food.

  6. Avoid foods that are spicy or greasy.

  7. Sip water or other drinks throughout the day, as small amounts will be better tolerated and keep you hydrated.  Avoid having a drink with your meal and instead leave 30 minutes either side of eating.

 

Other ideas for foods that may be better tolerated are:

  • Toasted muffins. Crumpets. Bagels. Anything else bread-based.  White varieties may be better tolerated, so don’t worry about having to have whole grains until you are feeling better. 

  • Plain pasta dishes that are low in fat. Rice. Jacket potato. Any type of cracker, including rice crackers, oat cakes, breadsticks.

  • Eggs such as omelettes may be ok. 

  • Nuts.

  • Ice lollies.

  • Bananas. Cold melon and watermelon can be refreshing and give you some energy.

 

Apart from foods to eat or avoid here are some other ideas that may help:

  • Fresh smells, like lemon, can help ease nausea, especially if other smells in the room are making it worse.  Cut a lemon in half and sniff it as needed.

  • Remember to take your pregnancy vitamins.  Taking them with food may reduce the chance of them making the nausea worse.

  • Tiredness can also make nausea worse, so make sure you go to bed early and get plenty of rest, but don’t go to bed with a full stomach as this may make things worse. 

  • Even if you don’t need to sleep, lying down may help the nausea pass.

  • You may also get some relief from wearing a wristband designed to put pressure on the acupressure points on the wrist.

  • Keeping a diary of when you nausea occurs may also help you manage it better.

If you are one of the unlucky few for who the nausea continues throughout pregnancy seeking advice from a dietitian would allow them to assess what you are managing to eat, make further suggestions and help reassure you that the baby is getting everything they need.